The Animal Demography Unit (formerly the Avian Demography Unit), or ADU, is a research unit of the University of Cape Town. Initially it was built on the nucleus of the South African Bird Ringing Unit (SAFRING) and the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP). The ADU was established in December 1991 within the Department of Statistical Sciences at the University of Cape Town. In January 2008 the ADU was formally transferred to the Department of Zoology.

BMCG’s role with the ADU is to collect and submit data for inclusion in the various project databases that they maintain. The ADU recognises the vital role that amateur birders or “Citizen Scientists” play in contributing information on field observations.

Projects that the ADU currently runs include:

  • South African Bird Atlas Project 2 (SABAP2)

      This is an ongoing project to record the occurrence of all bird species within South Africa on a 5 minute by 5 minute grid (“Pentads”). It has thus a finer resolution both spatially and temporally (maximum of 5 days per card, compared to one month) than the first Atlas, and can thus deliver more detailed information. Visit the SABAP2 website for more details.

This slideshow demonstrates how the citizen scientists who contribute their observations to SABAP2 have made the most amazing progress since the project started in July 2007. The slideshow is updated to 22 November 2012.

Steps to produce a Pentad Map:

  1. Click here to get to ADU’s coverage maps.
  2. Under the Google map, in the ‘Search for an address’ box type the name of a locality (e.g. Mapungubwe, Pofadder, 12 Jacaranda Avenue), OR zoom into the map to find the area you would like to visit. Click on Search.
  3. Then click on an appropriate pentad (block) – the one you are interested in. The pentad code appears in the ‘Selected pentad’ box.
  4. Then click on Submit. This opens the pentad summary page.
  5. Then click on the ‘Google map’ link below the graph. This will open a Google map of the pentad in a new browser window; the red box indicates the boundary of the pentad.
  6. Click on “satellite” to see landscape features (like in Google Earth) or “hybrid” to get the map and satellite together.
  7. Then using your web browser’s printing function (or use Ctrl-P), you can print the map.
  8. To save the map you go to File –> Save as, and save the page to a folder on your hard drive. You can then go back and open the map without having to go on-line to open/print it again.
  • BIRP

      The Birds in Reserves Project monitors the occurrence and breeding of birds in registered Protected Areas, which include National Parks, Nature Reserves, Conservancies and other defined areas. Monthly lists of species recorded for the reserves can be accessed on the BIRP website.

Either of the following two Excel Forms can be used to record your sightings and then you can email the results in to the address specified on the Form. The difference between the two Forms is the order in which the birds are listed.

Click on the Form and in the pop-up box that appears specify where you want to save the form on your computer so you can use it.

BIRP Form – Alphabetical

BIRP Form – Roberts Order

If you want a checklist of the potential birds in the region you are birding, then select the appropriate Form listed below.

Click on the Desired Form. The Form will appear in a new Tab. At the bottom middle of the form you will see an Option Bar for saving the Form to your computer or printing it.

Bushveld, Lowveld & Transvaal Escarpment

Eastern Coastal Belt

Highveld, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal & Midlands


South Western Cape, South Coast Belt & Little Karoo

West Coast, Karoo & Western Orange River

  • CWAC

      The Co-ordinated Waterbird Counts takes place twice a year in summer and winter at all major wetlands in South Africa. In this census, actual numbers of waterbirds are counted to assess the abundance of birds in  the wetlands. These include waterfowl, herons, cranes and waders, and the trends are of vital importance in monitoring the health of the wetlands. More information can be found here.

  • CAR

   Co-ordinated Avifaunal Road counts are conducted by driving along predetermined routes according to a strict protocol. This project is aimed at assessing the numbers of  36 species of large terrestrial birds (cranes, bustards, korhaans, storks, Secretarybird and Southern Bald Ibis) which are under threat due to land use change, poisoning and powerline collisions. For details on the project, visit the CAR website.

  • MyBirdPatch

      This is a relatively new, but increasingly popular, project that is easy to contribute to. It allows birders to define their own local ‘patch’ and submit lists for a single day’s observation on regular basis. The ‘patch’ can be a garden, a suburb or your local nature reserve, and the intention is to be able to get regular lists from areas that would not be     suitable for coverage by BIRP or SABAP2, i.e. where larger areas are covered and stricter protocols need to be followed. It is easy and fun to do, and you can even compile lists along your regular morning walking or running route. You might be amazed to see what a good list you can accumulate for your neighbourhood and find out exactly when the migrants arrive and leave. To find out more, go to the MyBirdPatch website.

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